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(608)266-5780 | State Capitol, Room 307 West, P.O. Box 8953, Madison, WI 53708 |



Winter Farmers Market

Saturday, January 16

10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Valley View Mall

3800 State Rd.



Stage on Screen: Jane Eyre

Sunday, January 17, 5:00 p.m.

Weber Center for the Performing Arts



State of the State Remarks

Tuesday, January 19

7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.





State Capitol
Room 307 West
P.O. Box 8953
Madison, WI 53708


(608) 266-5780
Toll Free:

(888) 534-0095



Friends and Neighbors,

Happy New Year, everyone! Welcome to a new year, a new legislative session, and this year’s start of weekly newsletters.

I hope you all had an enjoyable holiday break, and are ready for some new legislation down at the State Capitol. This year, my legislative priorities are passing commonsense reforms for our middle-class families, as well as advocating on behalf my legislation – the Safe Harbor anti-trafficking bill, and the Rail Safety Act.

Which issues do you want the legislature to be working on this session? You can reach out to me with your thoughts at or (608)266-5780 – I’d love to hear from you!


Best Wishes,

Jill Billings
State Representative
95th Assembly District








Spring Elections: Are You Ready to Vote?

2016 elections are coming up sooner than you may think!

The first round of spring elections will be on February 16, where voters will select the two top candidates for Wisconsin Supreme Court as well as for any local and county races for more than two contenders.

On April 5, final winners for February elections will be decided. This election will also serve as the partisan primary for Republican and Democrat nominees for President.

Are you registered to vote this spring? If you have not voted in Wisconsin before, or if your registration has expired, you will need to register before going to the polls. To learn more, and to register, visit

For this voting season YOU WILL NEED A PHOTO I.D. TO VOTE. You may use a Wisconsin driver’s license or state ID with an expiration date of November 4, 2014 or later. There are a few other methods of identification you may use. See a full list here:

If you do not have a photo ID, you can get one for free at, or by using a helpful guideline provided by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin.




Human Trafficking Awareness Day

This Monday (January 11) was National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, a day to highlight the global issues of sexual slavery and human trafficking, and to propose long-lasting solutions for communities across the country.

I have been working on the issue of human trafficking in Wisconsin for several years, and recently introduced the statewide anti-trafficking “Safe Harbor” legislation. The Safe Harbor bill, AB 267, would protect child victims of sex trafficking by eliminating the idea that there is such a thing as a “child prostitute.” The bill would also provide refuge and services to child victims of trafficking, instead of treating them like criminals.

An estimated 20.9 million people are forced into the global human trafficking trade annually. It is estimated that in the United States, 100,000 children are forced into sex trafficking, with the average age of initial contact at 13.

Human Trafficking Awareness Day presents an excellent opportunity to start a dialogue on how we can work to combat human trafficking in our communities.

Your efforts could include something as small as hanging up posters with information from the Department of Homeland Security [AVAILABLE HERE], or even speaking to your legislator and advocating statewide action on human trafficking. I would also encourage community members to raise awareness – and learn about individually – the signs of human trafficking. You can find more information about recognizing signs of human trafficking: [AVAILABLE HERE].

No matter which activity you choose to raise awareness, I hope you and all Wisconsinites will stand with me today – and every day of the year – against human trafficking.

If you need help with suspected or known human trafficking activity, use the resources below:

To get help from The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) call 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733). The NHTRC can help connect victims with service providers in the area and provides training, technical assistance and other resources. The NHTRC is a national, toll-free hotline available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. The NHTRC is not a law enforcement or immigration authority and is operated by a nongovernmental organization funded by the Federal government.




What Can We Do to Make College More Affordable?

A new class of Wisconsin college students will be graduating in just a few months. Like millions of other Wisconsinites, they will face the upcoming burden of paying back their student loans.

In Wisconsin, the average student graduates with $23,000 of debt after a 4-year education. Obtaining a degree is necessary to be competitive in today’s workforce. Unfortunately, the cost of a college degree has escalated to the point where newly-graduated Wisconsin students are unable to contribute equally to our economy - unable to buy a home, a car, and build their life because of excessive debts.

This week, Gov. Walker introduced what he called a “college affordability legislative package.” This package included deducting student loan interest, increasing internships, and continuing the UW System tuition freeze.

While some proposals in this package are reasonable, they produce limited results for a significant problem. Deducting student loan interest, as Gov. Walker noted himself, would give individuals an average benefit of $200 per year. It is estimated that Wisconsin residents paying student loans from obtaining a bachelor’s degree are paying an average of $388 per month for an average of 18.7 years.

Gov. Walker’s package also included a proposal on internship availability. While making unpaid internships more available may be beneficial to students’ post-graduate career prospects, it does absolutely nothing to alleviate the problems of college affordability.

Conversely, for the past few months, Assembly Democrats have been advocating meaningful changes to help those saddled with student loan debt burdens. Representative Cory Mason (D-Racine) introduced a bill to allow student loans to be refinanced, much like other commercial loans, and create lower and more reasonable interest rates. These interest savings would allow Wisconsinites to keep and re-invest more of their earnings each year.

Rep. Mason and my Democratic colleagues have been advocating this bill – the Higher Ed, Lower Debt bill – for several sessions. Wisconsin residents overwhelmingly support the proposal to refinance student loans, with a recent Marquette Law School poll indicating that they support the proposal by a 4-1 margin. Furthermore, the proposal to create a state authority to manage loan refinancing (as proposed in the Wisconsin bill) has already proven successful in states like Rhode Island, which has been able to reduce interest rates for its borrowers.

Despite public support and Democrats’ calls to for the Governor to consider this commonsense proposal, Gov. Walker refused to consider the proposal in his “college affordability package.”





Coulee Region Transportation Study

Over the past few weeks, I have gotten a number of contacts from La Crosse residents regarding construction on the North-South corridor. The construction project is part of a larger Coulee Region Transportation Project, which has been ongoing since the winter of 2015.

Public input is encouraged for this project. The next public involvement meetings will be taking place in La Crosse and Onalaska. Details are as follows:

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. (formal presentation at 5:30 p.m.)

La Crosse Central High School – Room 124

1801 Losey Boulevard South, La Crosse, WI


Thursday, January 28, 2016

5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. (formal presentation at 5:30 p.m.)

Onalaska City Hall – Council Chambers

415 Main Street, Onalaska, WI


If you are interested in learning more about the construction project and how it will affect your neighborhood, or if you would like to voice your concerns about the project, I would encourage you to attend one of these meetings!




Rep. Billings Around the State!


Representative Steve Doyle and I met with the La Crosse Healthy Living Collaboration, and are pictured here with Jessica Boland and Mike Turgeon, Healthy Living Hero Honorable Mention individual award winners for their work as Safe Routes to School Liaisons.

To start off 2016 right, I took an afternoon walk around our beautiful, snow-covered Riverside Park!



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